Balance From The Ground Up
By T.J. TOMASI
One important job your brain has is monitoring your balance. At the first sign that you’re falling, it will take corrective action to keep you upright.
This saves your body, but ruins your golf swing.
To stay down and through the ball, it helps to understand why you come up and out of the shot. Four basic strategies are employed by the balance system, depending on the severity of the balance disruption, and they’re activated from the ground up, i.e., feet first.
Ankle Strategy: The Sway
At address, your body is an inverted triangle balanced on ankles that serve as pivot points where even a small force, such as a poor distribution of weight, prompts a swaying motion to re-establish balance. In golf, you want to eliminate the body sway in favor of rotation.
Hip Strategy: The Hinge
If the imbalance is not corrected at the ankle level, the hips are called into play. When the base of support is fixed, as in the golf swing, the upper body uses the hips to regain balance by hinging or bending the body forward and back.
In golf, fat and thin shots are caused by just such a response: Your spine hinges toward (fat shot) or away from the ground (thin shot), depending on the initial imbalance cue.
Arms Strategy: The Flail
The next level of rebalance is the arms, which flail about in any direction that will stabilize your center of mass. When the arms thrust outward during the downswing, you’ll hit the ball on the heel of the club, and you’ll hit it off the toe when you pull your arms back toward your body.
When the only way to stay upright is to reposition the support base, you take a step in order to recover equilibrium. It’s called walking — losing your balance, then regaining it by stepping.
If your swing is so far off that you can’t keep your feet in place and hold your finish for a count of three, you must fix your balance problems before anything else.
Once your rebalance system is triggered, you have no choice but to obey, which is why your teacher can say “don’t lift your head” or “don’t dip down,” but you can’t stop doing it. Thus, the best way to deal with your balance recovery system is to be sure you don’t trigger it.
It all starts with your weight distribution at setup. Your weight should be distributed all the way from the balls of the feet backward to the heels. To make sure you distribute your weight correctly, simply curl your toes at address without rocking back on your heels.